Triple Booting Fedora, Ubuntu and PC-BSD

My Triple-boot system

Triple Booting Fedora, Ubuntu and PC-BSD
Triple Booting Fedora, Ubuntu and PC-BSD

I’ve been wanting to try a non-Linux OS for quite sometime, and managed to download PC-BSD today. My PC  already runs Fedora 13 and Ubuntu 10.04. I use Fedora’s GRUB to manage my boot process. After installing PC-BSD, I stuck with the same bootloader to manage the boot process.

I primarily use Fedora 13. The rest of the folks at home use Ubuntu or Fedora. I’ve messed around a lot with GRUB 2, but I do not like fiddling with a new version of the bootloader. So I remain loyal to the ‘legacy’ version of GRUB and will be using it until Fedora migrates to the new version.

You can also set up a triple boot (or any n-boot) system by using the older version GRUB. The process takes just a few steps.

Here’s how I did it:

1. I installed Fedora 13 first, and with it the GRUB to the MBR.

2. Later, I installed Ubuntu 10.04, but chose not to install the bootloader in the last step in the installer. You can do this by clicking on the Advanced button.

3. To add Ubuntu to Fedora’s GRUB, I just had to add the title, root and kernel entries for Lucid:


title Ubuntu 10.04

      root (hd0,2)
      kernel /vmlinuz ro quiet splash
      initrd /initrd.img

4. I installed PC-BSD, once again without the bootloader.

5. To add PC-BSD to the boot menu, I added just 3 lines:


title PC-BSD 8.0
      root (hd0,3)
      chainloader +1

An advantage of using GRUB 2 in one of the distros is that I never need to update the GRUB menu on Fedora. GRUB 2 automatically places a shortcut to the latest kernel in the / directory of the Ubuntu partition, so one doesn’t have to keep updating Fedora’s GRUB menu whenever Ubuntu’s kernel is updated.

Note: The logos in the image are copyright of their respective owners.

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Dual booting Windows 7 and Fedora 12 (or any other distro)

Lately some people I know have been upgrading their PCs to Windows 7, and have trouble with dual booting it alongwith Linux based operating systems. I looked around and found a way that works. The problem lies in the way Windows 7 creates partitions. If you set aside say, 32000 MB to install the OS, it’ll create two partitions: one small partition (< 100 MB) for the boot manager (I guess this is taken from /boot partition of Linux distros) and another one with 31900 MB where the actual files are copied (In most PCs this is C:). I tackled this problem in my own way:

1. Boot up the system from a live Linux CD.
2. Create an NTFS partition in which you will install Windows 7, with enough space.
3. Create ext3/4 partitions for /, /boot and /home as you wish.
4. Create a swap partition if needed.
5. Now install Windows, choosing the NTFS partition.
6. Then install Linux, the usual way.
7. GRUB will automatically detect Windows 7, and add it up to the boot menu.

That’s it, and you’ve got a nice (but not fully free) dual boot PC running.

Note: I tested this for installing Fedora 12 and Debian 5 alongside Windows 7, and both attempts were successful. It works for openSUSE 11.2 as well.

Upgrading to Fedora 12 in college

Well, most of my college department labs run on Fedora but they are passionate followers of the “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” school of thought. They’re still using Fedora Core 5, which feels like eons ago. I myself started using Fedora from the last core version, 6. I was wondering whether they would upgrade any of those labs, which are all now unsupported, of course! I’ve spoken to the person managing one of the labs, and he told that it’d be nice to upgrade if there were no issues.

So, after I’m done with my end semester exams, I’m gonna go try and convince the lab in-charge to install Fedora 12 before students start using the lab for the next semester. Hopefully there won’t be any compatibility issues now. These days, all the problems are with proprietary OSes. I once tried to install the latest version of one, but had to spend the better part of a day searching for drivers. So I just kicked that out of my PC, and it is pure once more.

I’d need to explain him the need to update it asap due to what is a vulnerability on publicly accessible computers: The unrooted installation permission.

And having exams wrapped around the release day sucks, I’ve just downloaded the 32 bit and about to complete the 64-bit DVD. My desktop has been running Fedora 12 since the beta versions, and has never had a problem.

I hope to go one step forward, and start using the SSN-CTS open source lab for something useful to the community. There’s a long way to go, but these first steps are what count,

Fedora 12 Beta Installation.. A Breeze!

I’ve been using Fedora since Fedora Core 6 back in 2006 when I was in my first year. I’ve wandered a lot in distroland, and since have stuck to Fedora since Fedora 9. I get kicks out of using the latest and greatest software available, so I downloaded the nightly build for Fedora 12 beta last weekend from http://alt.fedoraproject.org/pub/alt/nightly-composes/desktop/ and then installed it on my desktop last Sunday. The first thing that surprised me was the speed at which the live system loaded onto my desktop. I tried out the live system just for fun, and it was speedier than the previous versions and also Karmic Koala’s release candidate live CD. (It is faster than the Ubuntu 9.10 Final Live CD too!)

This excited me a lot, so I went ahead and installed the system onto my hard disk. Installation went really smooth, and there was not a single problem. So, I rebooted and went into my shiny new system. And God, I do love the default wallpaper! Light Blue and Light Green are my favorite colors, and this one has Light Blue as default!

Now, I wanted to do some work on this new machine. So I installed jdk, netbeans and eclipse to see if a few programs ran well. Then I installed gcc and all the other development tools. I’ve installed the multimedia codecs and many other essential software that could not be accomodated on the 653MB CD image.

GNOME 2.28 seems very stable and Empathy rocks! The Google Talk call feature is the real talking point of this GNOME IM client. I installed my own Eclipse from the IBM site, and had to change SELinux mode to permissive and execute

$ su -c 'chcon -t execmem_exec_t '/usr/local/eclipse/eclipse' '

to let SELinux allow eclipse to run.

I’ve copied over my Drupal installation on my laptop to this one, and the LAMP stack runs well, no issues at all. (The site is on localhost!)

I’ll upload the screenshots for the installation on my VM and other details in subsequent posts. The way this beauty seems to run, it makes me think twice of delaying the installation on my laptop till the final release!

Software Freedom Day at SSN College of Engineering

A one day workshop was conducted under the auspices of the SSN Student Chapter of IEEE by the Department of Computer Science and Engineering in association with SSN LUG on September 19, 2009 in commemoration of Software Freedom Day. Students in junior years from B.E, M.E. and MCA were exposed to Free and Open Source Software(FOSS).

Sri Ramadoss Mahalingam, associate at NRCFOSS, AU-KBC introduced the participants to the realm of open source software.  He elucidated on the history of computer software, and why Richard Stallman started the movement in the early 80s.

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Mr. Ramadoss talking about the Free Software Movement

The participants eagerly listened to his talk, and raised quite a few doubts. The talk illuminated those present about the need to shun proprietary software, and adopt free software.  The students were all ears as he spoke about how Stallman initiated a revolution in the software industry, that will only grow as SaaS becomes the primary model of business.

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Students are all ears as he talks about Stallman’s crusade against restrictive software licences

After breaking for tea, the participants returned to witness a demonstration of a Linux installation procedure.

Srikanth (logic on Twitter), SSN alumnus guided the attendees through the installation of Linux. Salvadesswaran, student coordinator then helped them to get a feel of the system, and the applications they’ll use on their systems. Mr. Ramadoss also demonstrated the use of Indic language tools available in Linux.

Thana Shyam, SSN alumnus and founder of JargonHandlers.com taught them the rudiments of LAMP, and how to create applications using PHP and MySQL.

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Mr. Thana Shyam of  jargonhandlers.com teaches about basic PHP programming

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Students try to create databases using PHPMyAdmin

Our sincere thanks to Mr. V. Balasubramanian and Mr. D. Venkata Vara Prasad, Assistant Professors, Dept. of CSE, SSN CE for organising this event and exposing the juniors to the domain of FOSS. We are also grateful to SSN-LUG and the SSN Student Chapter of IEEE for aiding us in the smooth conduct of the event.

Fedoraaaaaaaaa!!! Rocking @ SSN!

I’ve been using Fedora 11 on my laptop right from the day I bought it a month back. I did the usual work like installing the media and development packages which I use often. I didn’t update it though, as I do with my desktop. Yesterday at college I had an idea, and presto, it worked! Yeah, presto made it work. Fedora’s yum-presto plugin is my latest obsession, and I’m playing with it for a week or so on my desktop. Basically this is what presto does in a nutshell:

  • It compares the local package copy on your PC with the latest updated RPM on the repository mirror. I use the IIT-K mirror, it is blazing fast for me.
  • Delta RPMs on the mirror store the difference(delta) between the versions, so the plugin downloads the drpms, then builds the entire rpm files using the local sources and the drpms.
  • Thus, you save on a lot of bandwidth, and spare the mirrors from overload (which is a very good thing to do).

My idea was this:

Behind the college proxy server, we can only download files which are smaller than 25MB in size. I guessed that since I had saved 65 to 80% on bandwidth using yum-presto on my desktop, I’d surely save 40 to 50 % on my laptop since the packages are a bit older than the desktop.

I edited the yum config file to include the proxy server settings:

$ su -c ‘gedit /etc/yum.conf’

Add a line:

proxy=http://proxyhost:proxyport

Then save and close the file.

Now I had already installed yum-presto on my laptop using:

$ su -c ‘yum install yum-presto’

Now I started updating my system, using:

$ su -c ‘yum update’

I left it running from 11 am to 2 pm, and by then all packages had been downloaded. Another few minutes, and my system was up to date. As I had predicted, none of the packages downloaded exceeded the 25MB limit. So I guess that Fedora is the best OS to use and update at SSN!

Linux Lingo @ SRM

An event named Linux Lingo was organised today as a part of SRM University’s tech fest, Aarush 2009. Myself and Mr. Ramadoss from NRCFOSS, Fedora Ambassasador conducted the event. Ramadoss introduced the students to the philosophy of free software and Stallman’s crusade against the imposition of proprietary software. He delved into the GNU philosophy and gave several examples to emphasise the concept.

He then talked about the open source community following which we demonstrated a Fedora 11 installation. We got a volunteer to install the operating system. The audience had several doubts about the install process, and we resolved them. For the fun of it we tried to install in Hindi once, but reverted to English finally.

After the demonstration, I spoke about the software available in Fedora, and then about a few basic command line utilities. It was followed by a talk on bash scripting.

The day ended with our answering a few questions from the students about open source, real IT revolution and choice of software. Over a hundred students participated in the event and were introduced to the free software movement. We thank the coordinators of the event, Shiv Deepak, Vipul Jain, Anisha Kaul and Prakhar Agarwal for the enthusiasm they showed in organising this event.